AI Explained

Sep 28, 2022

Modern Uses of Deepfakes in Entertainment

Person walking forward

As the leading defender against malicious deepfakes, Reality Defender parses through millions of audio, video, and image files to not only spot deepfakes in the wild, but proactively prevent new and intrusive deepfakes from causing damage. Our work prevents deepfakes from damaging enterprises and their clients/customers. We do so by continuously developing our detection algorithms to not only work with current deepfake algorithms, but fight against new and future ones.

Yet not every deepfake is created with an intent to harm. As the technology for recreating a person’s face, voice, and/or motions increase, so do the potential applications for use in entertainment. As deepfakes become more mainstream, understanding the difference between deepfakes created for entertainment and deepfakes created for deception will be a useful skill to add to one’s media literacy toolset.

Below are two of our personal favorite deepfakes featured in major popular works.

Kendrick Lamar — “The Heart Part V”

In the lead-up to his latest album release, Kendrick Lamar worked with *South Park* Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker to physically embody notable public figures. Aided by Stone and Parker’s Deep Voodoo company, this music video shows Lamar morphing into the likes of Will Smith, Kanye West, Kobe Bryant, and others to visually add emphasis to his lyrics.

This example shows the prime difference between deepfakes used to entertain as opposed to deceive. Lamar’s face morphing into those of other familiar faces is a special effect, one that becomes the highlight of the video without ever leading the user into thinking the other people are present. It is the latest in an ever-expanding list of creative ways to use deepfakes to entertain.

Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian

For the second season of The Mandalorian, showrunner and writer Jon Favreau sought to bring back Luke Skywalker during a pivotal scene in the finale. Mark Hamill, the actor famous for playing Luke Skywalker, was 68 at the time and looking markedly different than he did when he first played the role 31 years prior. In order to portray Skywalker as if little time passed at all since the end of Return of the Jedi, Disney and Lucasfilm deepfaked a younger Hamill onto the body of a stunt double, utilizing Hamill’s real (and altered) voice for this digitized Luke Skywalker. This created for a truly emotional scene, one tugging at the heartstrings of many longtime Star Wars fans.

YouTuber Shamook, known for his entertaining use of deepfakes, was able to make decent improvements on the scene by utilizing even more advanced deepfake algorithms. After demonstrating his extensive work, the YouTuber has since been employed by Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic as a Senior Facial Capture artist, likely to assist with similar efforts in future Star Wars titles needing deepfake assistance.

The Future of Deepfakes as Entertainment

Special effects and production houses have yet to scratch the surface in terms of what they can create with deepfakes in visual and audio entertainment. As deepfake algorithms increase in sophistication and complexity, so too will the creative approaches and applications in various entertainment mediums.

One thing that will remain crucial to mass audiences is the highlighting or emphasis of the fact that deepfakes are, in fact, being used. This is necessary to help nudge audiences into awareness of the technology’s existence and, though it can be used for fun, it can also be misused and abused. By creating more awareness of deepfakes in entertainment, more people will be aware of deepfakes and, when confronted with the technology used for malicious purposes in the real world, would be less quickly deceived by them. Such education will help defend against deepfakes on a social level, creating an extra barrier against malicious deepfakes that currently does not exist.

Title Image: nathan_shipley_vfx

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